Yes, gas prices are rising. No, it’s not Biden’s fault. Monday, Apr 26 2021 

By Riley Vance—

As gas prices skyrocket, many Americans have taken to their Twitter feeds to point fingers at our newly inaugurated president, Joe Biden. Just earlier this month, Republican congressman Jim Jordan retweeted a tweet about gas prices rising 20.8% since January with: “Who took office in January?”

As college students struggling to afford living expenses and education costs during a pandemic the increasing price of gas is certainly frustrating, but can it be entirely Biden’s fault? 

Country music singer Travis Tritt also took to Twitter addressing his concerns. Tritt said, “Have you noticed gas prices lately? We’ve already returned to the highest gas prices since the Obama administration in many places. Thanks, Biden!”

Comments under his tweet were all in support of his viewpoint.

But, gas prices have steadily increased since May 2020. We saw a 45% increase in the price of gas in a short 10-month span. Prices went from $1.87 in April 2020 to $2.72 in February 2021. Since Biden has taken office, there has been a 10% increase in gas prices. 

The major argument from Republican leaders is that the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is to blame for the spike in gas prices, but this claim can easily be debunked by the fact that the pipeline wasn’t even operating yet. 

Louis Jacobson, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times, said that the majority of the oil that would have been carried by Keystone XL would have been exported, meaning there would be little effect on prices in the U.S.

Changes in the price of gas due to the decision to cancel the pipeline or limit fossil fuels are not infeasible but would take years to develop. 

The more likely explanation for the increase in gas prices has to do with the simple concept of supply and demand. 

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel and Russia have made cuts in production—this is the supply part of the equation. 

As far as the demand goes, we are recovering from a pandemic. People are getting vaccinated and returning back to a more normal lifestyle full of traveling (to work, on vacation or wherever else they please). 

According to NPR’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, over 187 million Americans have been vaccinated and over 72 million have been fully vaccinated since the COVID-19 vaccine distribution started in December 2020.

This is the logical reason for the increase of gas prices. 

Rapier said you can place blame on Biden, but only for slowing the spread of the pandemic. 

“If you think Biden is responsible for hastening the end of the pandemic, then you can place some blame for the rise in oil prices on him. But that’s because the economy is beginning to recover, which is a good thing,” said Rapier.

“It’s definitely annoying that gas prices are so high, but I think they’ll go down eventually. I think it was a normal reaction from the impact of COVID,” said Alex Wesbrooks, a junior finance major.

An increase in gas prices can hurt a lot of Americans’ wallets, but a more optimistic perspective is that we’re getting closer and closer to “normal” every day with the rollout of vaccines.  

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Students and faculty react to Biden’s first week in office Thursday, Jan 28 2021 

By Riley Vance–

After less than one full week in office, the newly inaugurated President Joe Biden has made numerous changes, including 33 executive actions.  

When asked about Biden’s swift actions during his short time in office, students and instructors on the University of Louisville’s campus had differing opinions. 

U of L College Republicans Chairman Isaac Oettle voiced some concern about the policies Biden has enacted. 

“I was encouraged by President Biden’s call for unity in his inaugural address at noon,” said Oettle recalling Biden’s inauguration. “Although the words began to ring hollow by 3 p.m. when he cancelled production of the Keystone XL pipeline and the media reported that he intends to send an immigration bill to Congress that would provide blanket amnesty to illegal immigrants without even an offer for increased border security in exchange. President Biden’s administration also placed a moratorium on new oil and gas drilling, breaking his campaign pledge to not ban fracking.”

Among Biden’s executive actions are those that relate to the topic of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as increased manufacturing and quicker delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations, tests, and Personal Protective Equipment as well as a mask mandate on federal property. 

Biden has also made strides to mend environmental issues by rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

Although the economy is typically not the main priority of many Democrats, after only a few days in office Biden has posted on Instagram claiming to extend a moratorium on evictions and student loan relief.

U of L Young Democrats Treasurer Julia Mattingly supports Biden, but she also expresses her concern about his use of executive orders.

“As much as I support the vast majority of President Biden’s executive orders, such as re-committing the U.S. to the World Health Organization, rejoining the Paris climate accord, and reversing the Muslim travel ban, I also believe it is wrong for him to legislate simply by pen and paper,” said Mattingly.

“If he plans to hold true to the promises he made on the campaign trail and genuinely unite this country, he must work with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to ensure his legislative priorities. It is important that we as Democrats hold President Biden accountable in the same way we did the former President Trump, and discourage President Biden from being overly reliant on executive action.”

Biden has also made it clear that he cares about fixing racial and gender inequalities in America. 

Since he has taken office, Biden has repealed the transgender military ban allowing transgender men and women to serve in the U.S. military. He has also reversed former President Trump’s policy that did not allow transgender athletes to participate in sports as their identified gender. Biden appointed Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health—the first openly transgender federal official. 

Additionally, he has launched a federal initiative to advance racial equity nationwide by reallocating resources. 

U of L Political Communications professor Bill Brantley thinks Biden’s transition will come with many obstacles. 

“President Biden needs to reframe the policy debates with the new unity perspective,” said Brantley. 

“President Trump framed his policies in an “us versus them” perspective because he didn’t see the need to reach out to the Congressional Democrats. Establishing a new framing perspective is always difficult against an entrenched narrative frame.” 

There is no denying that President Biden is ready to start taking action on promises he made during his campaign, however, it seems that most believe his largest obstacle is uniting the country after a messy election. 

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L Provost hosts panel to discuss presidential succession Wednesday, Jan 20 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

University of Louisville Provost Beth Boehm hosted a forum on Jan. 12 that was focused on the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election and what to expect going forward.

The conversation was held virtually and moderated by Brandeis School of Law Dean Colin Crawford. The panelists included Vice President for University Advancement Jasmine Farrier, visiting professor at the Brandeis School of Law Eugene Mazo, and political science chair and professor Jason Gainous.

The forum began with a chance for each of the panelists to give an opening statement. Farrier started her statement with a glimpse into her scholarly perspective on political theory. “When I was in college, as an undergraduate, I found political theory to be fascinating because political theory asks everyone to think about what humans are made of,” Farrier said.

“When humans form community, we get the good and the bad. We get power, we get strength, we also get victimized,” she said. “We also have to realize that society can only survive if you treat the losers with dignity and with fairness.”

She continued her statement by discussing the constitution and what it means to apply this very old document to modern life. She also discussed her particular area of interest, separation of power and how that topic related to the current political moment in terms of the limitations on a president and the limitations on Congress.

Mazo began by discussing his background and how it led to his interest in democracy.

“I am a scholar of the law of democracy. This comes out of my personal heritage. My parents were refugees who moved here from an authoritarian country and so I have never taken our democracy for granted and I’ve spent my professional career studying it,” Mazo said. “I’m interested in what it means to have a democracy. I’m interested in how democracies are created, how they function, and how democratic disputes are resolved, in this country at least, by the courts, and what tools the courts use to resolve those disputes.”

He went on to discuss the factors that made the 2020 presidential elections different from any other. Mazo said that the pandemic had a tremendous impact on the way elections were conducted this year and brought up numerous challenges related to the voting system that states had to resolve.

He also pointed out that this presidential election was unlike any other in the recent history of the United States because one of the candidates refused to concede the election and now a large amount of Americans feel like the election was stolen. Mazo concluded his introductory statement by posing the question: “What should we do as a society to move forward and to begin to heal after the events of last week, or should we say, after the events of last year?”

The last panelist to give an opening statement was Gainous, who began his statement by discussing how his area of interest fits into the focus of the forum.

“What is fascinating in studying information effects across time is that we started off as scholars of information technology believing that the internet was going to be a democratizing force,” Gainous said. “It was going to open up avenues for communication between citizens and legislators, it was going to break the chains of censorship in autocratic contexts. We thought all of this to be true, and what we found, across time is that we were wrong.”

Gainous continued to say that the current environment of the internet makes it possible for people to keep themselves in their own little bubbles and leads them to surrounding themselves with information that reinforces whatever they want to believe. He then went on to make the case that storming the capitol would have made sense if the people involved were correct in their beliefs.

“I believe that the storming of the capitol, in many ways, is a completely rational behavior. It seems completely crazy and irrational to us, but when I say rational, if indeed the things that these people believe have happened, then that seems like the American thing to do. We’ve done that across the course of our history. The problem is that the things that they believe are not true,” Gainous said.

The panelists then moved on to the questions and answers section of the discussion where they discussed numerous legal options available to Congress and the president in the remaining days of Donald Trump’s presidency.

The moderator began this discussion by asking Farrier about the possibility of the president issuing a self-pardon. Farrier responded that it wasn’t clear if the pardon could be used this way, and even if it can, this would only clear the president of federal crimes he may have committed and not prevent him from being charged in any particular state.

Mazo was then asked if he believed the lawsuits the president’s administration brought up related to the election were frivolous and what purpose they serve, if any. He replied by saying that he believed many of the lawsuits to be frivolous, but some of them were founded on reasonable legal theory, they just weren’t filed in the correct way.

Farrier was then asked if the fact that Trump appointed judges refused to hear his case was surprising. She replied that it wasn’t surprising because judges tend to be careful about keeping their legitimacy instead of leaning in an overtly partisan way.

Gainous also went on to argue that if the point of filing the lawsuits was to get people to believe the election was fraudulent, then they were successful. He said that just the filing of the lawsuits, even though nothing came of them, was enough to convince many Trump supporters that the election was fraudulent.

The panel went onto discuss impeachment, censure, expulsion, and eliminating eligibility from office. The day after this panel took place, Trump became the first president to be impeached twice.

The full forum can be found on the U of L Alumni Facebook page.

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Biden elected 46th U.S. President, U of L students react Tuesday, Nov 10 2020 

By Catherine Brown-

After several days of counting votes, Joe Biden will become the 46th President of the United States. As expected, student voters at U of L have mixed reactions about the results.

For four days, voters anticipated election results from swing states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Nevada that managed to put Biden in the lead.

Once all the ballots were counted, including those sent by mail, the remaining states, including Pennsylvania and Nevada, were finally called in Biden’s favor. As of Nov. 10, Biden holds 290 electoral votes, while Trump has 214. 

North Carolina, Georgia and Alaska have yet to be called, but it’s impossible for Trump to make up the missing electoral votes.

“I’m ecstatic that Biden has won the election. I can not wait to protest against him the second he’s inaugurated,” Lorenzo Rowan, a sophomore who voted for Biden said. “I plan to hold him to account on every policy he has proposed to help improve the lives of working people.”

Ian McCall, a sophomore, voted for Trump. 

“I’m not surprised by the outcome in the presidential race,” McCall said. “Trump won his first term because he appealed to people’s worries about the economy.”

McCall said that in the case of a divided Congress, “The government can get back to doing what it does best. Nothing.”

Christopher Borick, a professor of political science and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, found that supporters for Biden were less enthusiastic about his candidacy than supporters for Trump, with only 49% of Biden voters showing enthusiastic support compared to 82% for Trump.

“Joe Biden is not the darling of voters,” Borick said. “In the end, there was enough enthusiasm against Trump that even if people weren’t in love with Joe Biden, they certainly were able to vote for him.”

According to a telephone interview of 419 likely voters in Pennsylvania, Democratic candidates for Congress are preferred over their Republican opponents. 

The same interview, conducted by researchers at Muhlenberg College, found that top issues concerning voters in Pennsylvania were the economy, healthcare and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hilary Beaumont, a writer for Aljazeera, attributes Biden’s win to a combination of factors including Biden’s appeal to the white working-class voters who were disappointed by Trump. Beaumont claims that Biden managed to appeal to suburban voters in Pennsylvania districts previously upset by Hillary Clinton in 2016.  

Additionally, Biden has roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania, which helped him lead in Lackawanna County.

The Trump administration announced that it would file lawsuits in states with a slim Democratic lead, such as Pennsylvania and Michigan. The lawsuits were sent to state and federal courts in these states to either stop counting mail-in ballots or recount the ballots.

Law officials say a recount is unlikely to change the results of the states involved.

Let’s see what the next four years have to offer.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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Make your vote count in the presidential elections Wednesday, Oct 28 2020 

By Catherine Brown–

Presidential elections are less than one month away. Get out and vote like your future depends on it—because it does.

This election cycle has been called “the most important election of our lifetimes” by various politicians including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg.

The importance of this election comes from the political polarization in this country. Since President Donald Trump’s inauguration, voters seem to fall primarily along two party lines–either Democrat or Republican. Of course, many Americans still fall within a third party. But we’re taught to see our political party as right, and all others as wrong. 

That’s why it can be frustrating to not see a candidate whom you feel aligns with your views. In this election, we see the conservative Republican incumbent versus the liberal Democratic former vice president. Both have the political experience necessary to take on the role as president for the next four years. But many voters were dependent on the presidential debates to determine where they would cast their vote. 

And the first presidential debate certainly didn’t hit swing voters with as much impact as we would hope.

“Focus groups and polling suggest that the first presidential debate did little to convince swing voters to vote for one candidate over the other,” said Jennifer Anderson, a political science professor at U of L specializing in campaigns and elections.

In fact, it seems like the first debate might’ve had the opposite effect.

“Some focus group evidence from the NY Times, NPR and others suggest the debate pushed some undecided voters more toward opting out of voting rather than voting for one candidate over the other,” Anderson said.

But sooner or later, voters need to make a choice.

Anderson analyzed the overall effectiveness of the two campaigns, as well as ways in which each candidate could improve.


Trump

Trump continues to do well with his base. His nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is sitting well with most Republicans, and the nomination serves as a reminder to Republicans that there are lasting implications for voting for a president of one’s own party, even for those who aren’t Trump fans,” Anderson said.

She said his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak is a low point in his campaign. It certainly doesn’t help Trump having such a massive global pandemic so close to Election Day. 

Anderson also said Trump is inconsistent with the messaging in his campaign.

Ian McCall, a sophomore, plans to vote for Trump.

“I’m voting for Trump because this election is more than just a battle of policy. Our country is more divided than it has ever been. This election has become a battle of culture, and I as many conservatives feel that all our institutions and our very way of life is under threat,” McCall said.

“Biden will take the country in a direction that seems decidedly un-American to me. My concern is doing what is best for the people in my life and that, to me, is voting for Trump,” he said. “I understand some feel that voting for Biden is what is best for the country and in truth I don’t believe there is an objectively right or wrong way to run the country.”

 

Biden

Anderson said that analysts predicted that Biden would make “costly gaffes in his campaign,” but that he has largely avoided mistakes. She said Biden could improve through changing the “finding a way to change the narrative around his older age and perceived frailty.”

Joe Biden has been criticized by Trump and his supporters for his slurred speech and forgetfulness, so much so, that Trump has given Biden the nickname “Sleepy Joe.” 

Lorenzo Rowan, a sophomore, will be voting for Biden.

“I believe that Biden is the easier candidate to bully into making substantive changes for POC and LGBTQ with nationwide intersectional protests against his administration,” Rowan said.

Another reason Rowan said he’s voting for Biden is because of Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his climate change policies.

“Over 200k Americans are dead from COVID-19 because of Trump’s ineptitude, stupidity and narcissism. Trump’s lack of belief in the existence of human-caused climate changed had cost us precious time to address that existential crisis. Biden has proposed a $2 trillion dollar plan to help with climate change.”


This year, Election Day looks a little different for much of America. While in person polling places will still be around, our democracy is also relying on mail-in votes being cast.

Unfortunately, voting fraud is already happening.

Unauthorized ballot boxes were set up by the California Republican Party to count unofficial votes in the state. This is an act of voter suppression, intended to take away the voice and democratic power of those who might threaten the chances of certain candidates being elected. It is also against state law.

Other polling locations are facing long lines with several hours of waiting just to receive a ballot.

Don’t let this be a deterrent in exercising the right to vote. Despite concerns around fraudulent behavior in regards to mail-in voting, voter fraud is actually rare.

In this pandemic, millions of Americans are given the opportunity to avoid possibly catching or spreading COVID-19. By mail-in voting, you can show that you value both voting and being safe around others. Even if you decide to vote in person, you’ll have your vote counted and it will impact our country’s future.

Louisville voters can access one of many drop-box locations around the city. 

Everybody that is eligible to vote needs to get out and do their part for our democracy.

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‘The Proof Is In The Pudding:’ Coal Country Responds To Democrats’ Clean Energy Transition  Monday, Aug 24 2020 

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Democrats made their pitch to the American people during a largely virtual Democratic National Convention and addressing climate change emerged as a central tenet of the party’s plan. 

The party platform spells out a major investment in green energy jobs and infrastructure in order for America to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emission no later than by 2050. Environmental justice is a key component of the Democrat’s climate plan and it references ensuring fossil fuel workers and communities receive investment and support during this clean energy transition. 

“As President, Joe Biden will rejoin the international climate agreement, and the United States will once again lead on this critical issue at home,” New Mexico Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said while standing in front of a field of solar panels. “He’ll invest in energy workers and he will deliver for working families across the U.S., helping them build meaningful careers, while accelerating our nation and world into a clean, green 21st century and well beyond.”


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Vote for a better future, not the candidate Saturday, Apr 18 2020 

By Ben Goldberger —

Bernie Sanders brought the 2020 presidential election back to the forefront of Americans’ minds after he announced the termination of his presidential campaign April 8. This paves the way for the democratic nomination for Joe Biden and almost guarantees we will see a Biden versus Trump battle for the presidency.

Sanders spoke to many of the underlying issues in society today that affect a vast amount of people, and built a strong base of young, diverse supporters, especially college-age voters in the process. Many Democrats are devastated by his resignation, seeing their two choices return to the norm for American politics: old, rich, white men.

This disappointment is leading many of Sanders’ supporters to either vote third party in the presidential election or not vote at all. While this frustration with the current political system and democratic party is valid, voting third party or restraining from voting will only further the systematic struggles that Sanders’ fought so hard to combat. 

Let’s be honest, a third-party candidate will not win any election in the current political scene, especially the most important presidential election in recent history. The two-party dominant political system is not the best system by any means, and third parties allow for vaster representation in politics, but this is not the election to protest this system. 

While it is easy to look at the two major-party candidates for this election and find issues with them both, this election is about more than just the candidates. 

For starters, it is likely that at least one or two Supreme Court seats will open up within the next four years. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 87, a Supreme Court Justice known to lean democratic in her decisions, has faced multiple health complications throughout this year. Along with fellow Justice Stephen Breyer, also over 80 years old, are likely to resign in the next coming years.

This means that whatever party is in charge could change the balance of the Supreme Court for years to come. 

Another issue to consider is the rapidly decreasing health of our planet.

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report that said if the global temperature does not decrease by 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040, the Earth will reach past the point of return, leading to a state of inhabitability.

The current administration has not made saving the environment a priority, enacting or removing laws in order to benefit businesses over sustainability.

The next administration to take office will set the tone for how this country acts towards environmental justice and will either start to make progress that will keep this planet livable or worsen the situation and decrease the time until Earth is no longer habitable. 

2040 may seem far away, but it is much closer than it feels. Children who started kindergarten last fall will be seniors in high school in 2032, only eight years until the point of no return.

This is an extremely pressing issue, and this election will decide the fate of the planet, and the fate of future generations.

Despite all of this, many supporters of past democratic candidates cannot bring themselves to vote for Biden, because they see the similarities between him and Trump. While voters should not condone his past behavior by any means, they also should not let the disappointing choices of candidates deter them from what this election is truly about. 

This election is not about one candidate or the other. It is about which party gets control over the Supreme Court for upwards of 25 years to come, altering decisions like reproductive justice, LGBTQIA+ equality, transgender rights and racial justice to name a few.

It is about making a larger effort to save the environment before it is too late. It is about making a greater life for the upcoming generations.

Even if neither of the two dominant candidates represents voters’ beliefs entirely, people should vote for the candidate who will pass the most policies that they agree with.

Biden is definitely a step back into traditional politics, but if Sanders supporters want even a speck of what Bernie stood for to become a reality in the next four years, they should put their personal pride aside and vote for the democratic candidate. 

Baby steps will still move us forward. 

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Just Transition: Amid Climate Debate And Coal’s Decline, West Virginia Considers Its Future Monday, Feb 17 2020 

On a recent soggy Wednesday evening, dozens of West Virginians packed a conference room inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center to discuss the need for a “just transition” for coal-impacted communities.

As the nation grapples with climate change, the need for a fair transition for workers and communities that depend upon coal jobs and revenue has also gained traction. Nearly every 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful has touted some version of the idea, ranging from the expansive “Green New Deal” championed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to former Vice President Joe Biden’s more modest mix of worker training and direct assistance for coal country.

In West Virginia, discussions are starting to get attention in the state’s capital despite strong political support for the coal industry.

“When you’re hearing a call for a just transition for coal-reliant communities, folks are saying ‘look, starting now and into the future, we’re going to decarbonize the economy,’” said Ann Eisenberg, a law professor at the University of South Carolina. “There will be disproportionate losses imposed on coal-reliant communities. And that’s unfair. So we’re going to offset the losses. And that is where I think this is a good thing. And it’s also tricky.”

Eisenberg was one of a handful of experts who spoke at the event hosted by West Virginia University’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development, the nonprofit West Virginia Center on Climate Change (an offshoot of conservation group Friends of Blackwater), and the left-leaning West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

Brittany Patterson | Ohio Valley ReSource

Three groups hosted a just transition discussion on Feb. 5, 2020 in Charleston, WV.

The speakers facilitated a conversation about what constitutes a “just transition” as well as how West Virginia and other regions that depend on coal could actually get there.

Adele Morris with the Brookings Institution said the first step is to acknowledge the clear data about coal. Even without a comprehensive climate policy, the fuel is already losing ground in the region and across the country. Low natural gas prices and the falling cost of renewable energy have priced many coal plants out of the market.

hindsight2020-mine-empAlexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Federal data show since 2009, mining employment and coal production has fallen by about 50 percent in the Ohio Valley. The energy shift is already underway, Morris said, but without the part that would help communities make the transition.

hindsight2020-mine-prodAlexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

“We’re in it. We’re in the transition,” said Morris, who is a senior fellow and policy director at the nonpartisan think tank. “And it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But it’s not fair. And that’s what I think should be urgently at the top of the agenda of the policymakers from coal country, and they’re not, in my opinion.”

Legislative Attempt

One lawmaker is making a pitch in West Virginia. State Del. Evan Hansen, a Democrat representing the north-central county of Monongalia, has introduced a bipartisan bill that would create a state Just Transition Office, and a community-led advisory committee that would focus on helping West Virginia communities affected by the decline of coal.

“The primary goal here is to write a just transition plan for the state of West Virginia that would look at ways to funnel funding into these communities and other types of resources into these communities in a manner that’s led by what people in those communities think is best,” Hansen said.

The bill is modeled after similar legislation that passed in Colorado. On Wednesday, the West Virginia version passed out of one of the two committees to which it was referred, but Hansen acknowledges it faces a long road to becoming law with the state’s legislative session more than halfway done.

Still, he believes the appetite is growing among the state’s lawmakers to address coal’s decline.

“I would say privately many legislators of both parties acknowledge that there is a transition going on and that this is one of the most important issues that we need to deal with as a Legislature,” Hansen said.

Not everyone is a fan of the bill, including the West Virginia Coal Association.

“Sounds to me like that they think that it would be much better if it were something other than the coal miners,” said the group’s president Bill Raney. “And that bothers me a whole lot because we got the best coal miners in the world.”

Raney’s group is pushing a bill this legislative session that would require West Virginia coal plants to burn the same amount of coal they did in 2019 in the years ahead, regardless of what makes most economic sense.

Of major note during the discussion was how to pay for a “just transition.”

Today most economic transition work in the region comes from federal programs including the Appalachian Regional Commission and Abandoned Mine Land program funding, which offer grants to coal-affected communities in the millions of dollars range.

Morris has estimated the region will require tens of billions of dollars over the next decade and would require some kind of regulatory leadership from Washington, D.C., preferably a carbon tax. Democratic candidates who have supported the idea have differing ways to fund it, although most rely heavily on investing in clean energy and decarbonizing the economy through a “Green New Deal.”

Some in the region have encouraged lawmakers and candidates looking at these climate policies to engage with residents directly.

That includes Cecil Roberts, head of the United Mine Workers of America. In September, he spoke at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He expressed concern the type of sweeping change Democratic presidential candidates are promising may be too big of a lift for Congress given its past track record in helping coal country.

“We want our health care saved, and if you can’t do that, and it’s been 10 years, how do you think we’re going to believe that you’re going to be able to give us a just transition from the coal industry to some other employment?” he said.

Kentucky Conversations 

Chuck Fluharty, President and CEO of the Rural Policy Research Institute, helped to organize a community-centered, just transition model in eastern Kentucky called Shaping Our Appalachian Region, or SOAR. He said SOAR has shown this type of work is possible, especially if a community-centric approach is embraced. However, it’s not easy.

SOAR’s premise is built upon a collective impact investing model that engaged the public, private and philanthropic sectors.

IMG_4112Sydney Boles | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentucky entrepreneurs show their products at the 2019 SOAR Summit.

“The real proof of the pudding is in how broad collective commitment is, and is it there for the money or is it there for the future?” he said. “How much it is about investing and not simply dropping dollars on the table.”

Some politicians hope to engage coalfield communities directly about how to balance implementing climate legislation while protecting workers and investing in communities. Kentucky Democratic state senator and U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker recently launched a series of town meetings on the subject in the heart of eastern Kentucky coal country.

Even among those who support a just transition, questions remain about how best to do it. Morris said there is little data on what has worked in economic transitions in the past. Her team has looked at the impact of military base closures, for example, but said the analogy isn’t perfect. Worker retraining efforts often have mixed results.

“There’s this policy design challenge of how do you get from the wholesale dollars of the federal government into well designed retail level grants and assistance and so on,” she said. “I’m still struggling with exactly how you do that in a way that gets those resources out, but does it in a way that that gives people comfort that it’s responsibly allocated.”

In a report published last July, Morris and colleagues at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University quantified just how much of a coal-producing county’s budget came from coal, and how big a hole their budgets might face without coal revenue.

Then the authors turned to the various policy proposals to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which would set a price on each ton of carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere.

Morris said that the revenue generated by such policies could be steered into the type of investments needed and at a scale that would make a just transition more likely.

For example, a carbon tax of $25 per ton would likely raise a trillion dollars in revenue over 10 years, she said.

“And that kind of revenue allows for a very generous support for coal-reliant areas,” Morris said.

Trump, Buttigieg raised most presidential campaign money in Kentucky Friday, Jul 26 2019 

Donald Trump and Pete Buttigieg in splitscreen

The reelection campaign of President Donald Trump raised far more money from more individual donors in Kentucky than any of the other presidential candidates in the first six months of 2019, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg raising the most in the state among the many Democratic contenders. A ProPublica database of Federal Election Commission […]

Author of ‘Obama-Biden Mysteries’ will visit Carmichael’s on Wednesday Tuesday, Jul 23 2019 

Vice President Joe Biden arrives in Chicago to see his buddy President Barack Obama speak at a conference and is caught up in St. Patrick’s Day traffic and a murder mystery. How do high-powered, high-profile people solve a crime without being besieged by the public? You’ll have to read the book to find out. Hint: […]